On February 19, 1942, nearly eighty years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law Executive Order 9066, which gave to the secretary of war (and any military commander designated by him) to create “military areas... from which any or all persons may be excluded.” While Executive Order 9066 did not specifically mention Japanese Americans, it cleared a path for the creation of military “zones” (like Military Areas 1 and 2, which comprised all of Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and California, where my grandparents and their families lived), from which Japanese Americans could be restricted or prohibited from living.
Executive Order 9066 was followed by a series of Public Laws and Public Proclamations that tightened restrictions on Japanese Americans, assigning curfews, designating certain items (like cameras) contraband, and restricting travel, and eventually Civilian Exclusion Orders which required people of Japanese descent to, in a matter of days, pack up their belongings, settle their affairs, and report to temporary detention centers up and down the west coast.
Today, February 19 is known as the Day of Remembrance, which commemorates the incarceration of more than 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry in World War II. And as we remember the injustices of our past, may we also work to end the injustices of our present. Some causes you might consider checking out today include Tsuru for Solidarity, Kids in Need of Defense, and RAICES.
I’m also giving away an ARC of WE ARE NOT FREE on my Instagram. Go to this post for details. Ends Wednesday, February 26 at noon Pacific. This giveaway is international.